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NFL Exec Says Ravens HC John Harbaugh 'Wants to Exercise Power over Players'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 16, 2023

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, right, talks with quarterback Tyler Huntley (2) in the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
AP Photo/Darron Cummings

There were few bigger stories in the NFL over the weekend than Lamar Jackson's unavailability for Sunday's wild-card loss against the Cincinnati Bengals.

One of the theories floating around is that Jackson, heading into unrestricted free agency, chose not to risk further injury by playing, which would have limited his leverage in contract talks. It was a storyline that John Harbaugh and the Ravens could have shot down, but that never really happened.

And one NFL executive has a theory on why.

"Harbaugh is a power coach," the executive told Mike Sando of The Athletic. "It's like it is 1983 and you're going to get the kid to come back by saying he is an important part of the team and it's not a serious injury, but that doesn't work in today's NFL. He tries to make it coy and tricky, but he wants to exercise power over players, just like the college coaches he comes from and admires."

"That is what him and his brother do, and there is one more guy who handles business like that—he wears cutoff-arm sweatshirts with hoodies, and his name is Bill Belichick," the executive added.

There is significant uncertainty surrounding Jackson's future in Baltimore. Fox Sports analyst and former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton questioned that on Sunday:

FOX Sports: NFL @NFLonFOX

The crew share their thoughts on Lamar Jackson's injury <a href="https://twitter.com/SeanPayton?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SeanPayton</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/CharlesWoodson?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CharlesWoodson</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/MichaelVick?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MichaelVick</a> <a href="https://t.co/OBtLcDiM1d">pic.twitter.com/OBtLcDiM1d</a>

The entire situation probably could have been nipped in the bud with a few supportive quotes from Harbaugh about his quarterback. The fact that it wasn't suggests that a rift is potentially growing between Jackson and the organization.